T.S. ELIOT AS A POET
“Let us go, then, you and I / When the evening is spread out against the sky/ Like a patient etherized upon a table". With these lines Eliot appeared on the scene of modern English poetry as a wonderful innovator. These lines revolutionized the intellectual climate of English poetry. He initiated a new brand of poetry of the city, a poetry essentially cerebral, impersonal, imagistic, urbane, ironic and observational.
T.S. Eliot was one of the significant literary figures in twentieth century. He received the Nobel Prize in 1948. He was a keen student of philosophy and took exceptional interest in Indian and Hindu philosophy. In 1908 young Eliot started writing poetry. In1911 his first major The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock came out. The coming years showed his literary talent. Among his most famous writings are Portrait of a Lady, Aunt Helen, Gerontion, Sweeney Among the Nightingales, The Hippopotamus, TheAS A MODERN POET:
The Hollow Man, The Journey of Magi, Ash Wednesday and Four Quartets. Apart from poems, he was a successful dramatist too.
His plays Murder in the Cathedral, The
Family Waste Land Union, Confidential Clerk, The Cocktail
Party and The Elder Statesman enjoyed
great commercial success. His critical pieces such as Tradition and Individual Talent, Dante, After Strange God, The Idea of Christian Society, and The Frontiers of Criticism offered him much
Eliot is a modern poet in the true sense of the term. There are the descriptions of modern society in his poems. The Love Song of J Alfred Prufock portrays modern man’s dilemma. The Waste Land encapsulates the predicament of the post war generation. Full of classical allusions, The Waste Land is the touchstone of modern literature. It beautifully evokes the fragmented human experience vainly striving for meaning in life. Ash Wednesday borders on hope and salvation. Four Quartets combines poetic imagination with philosophical thoughts. Eliot represents the quintessence of an age riding on the waves of new-fangled ethos. An accomplished poet, playwright and literary critic par excellence, Eliot’s opus departed from the traditional ways of representation. It dwelled upon a certain sense of disenchantment, alienation, loss and chaos. He embodies the very spirit of modern literature.
Eliot has been one of the most daring innovators of twentieth-century poetry. He believes that poetry should aim at a representation of the complexities of modern civilization. He was influenced early in his poetic career by Baudelaire, Mallarme, Laforgue and Corbiere. He got associated with Ezra Pound and the Imagist Movement in English poetry. His poetics comprises a rare artistry which is hugely inspired by anthropology, psychology, occult and mysticism. His conscious artistry of imagery and tone is always appreciated. The narrative of Eliot’s poems reworks stream of consciousness technique. It often focuses on madness, ennui, guilt, remorse and breakdown of humanity. Eliot was a sheer conjurer with words. He gave birth to unique prose and verse. His influence on modern poetic diction has been immense.
Eliot firmly believed in the ‘impersonal’ poetry. He opposed the Romanticism and declared that “Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality but an escape from personality. His observations on the monotony, squalor, the boredom and the horror are fantastic. In his writing one can enjoy the revival of the Metaphysical tradition of wit, allusion, conceit, colloquialism, ironic banter etc. In short, tracing Eliot in a few words is a Herculean task.